Sitting out did nothing for Nate Diaz, and it could do even less for Jorge Masvidal

Nate Diaz, Jorge Masvidal

Jorge Masvidal’s knee heard round the world against Ben Askren at UFC 239 set a record for the fastest knockout in promotional history. It also ripped a hole in the fabric of time and space, sending the UFC nearly three years back into the past, where Nate Diaz—another supremely talented and outspoken superstar—stood on the same morals as Masvidal, refusing to accept anything less than another big-ticket fight.

There aren’t enough Advil on the planet capable of alleviating the massive headache that ghastly trip down memory lane would cause UFC President Dana White.

Jorge Masvidal has certainly earned the right to sit on whatever morals he pleases after finishing Ben Askren in astonishing fashion. There was talk of Askren potentially jumping in front of Colby Covington as the No. 1 contender for a title shot, if he managed to get past Masvidal. Well, the tables viciously turned and Masvidal got past him instead.

That has given ‘Gamebred’ the fair arguing point that not only did he defeat former title challenger Darren Till on foreign soil in England, but he’s also the first man to hand a loss to Askren. A direct line to UFC welterweight champion Kamaru Usman or a money fight with former two-division champ Conor McGregor is “super necessary” in his eyes.

But is it super necessary in White’s eyes?

Therein lies the problem for Jorge Masvidal, as it did for Nate Diaz. After posting back-to-back blockbuster pay-per-view bouts against McGregor, Diaz ascended to a new level of superstardom; that sumptuous level of celebrity status delegated to a select few needle movers that have earned the right to throw their weight around at a negotiating table. Being the first man to defeat McGregor vaulted Diaz all the way up into the heavyweight class of negotiating status.

Then he reportedly started turning down random fight offers in hopes of landing another lucrative bout without compromising his newfound position. He even threatened to sit out for an entire year if he didn’t get the fight contract he wanted. It was a risky roll of the dice that seemingly banked on the UFC eventually caving into his demands.

And so he sat.

Hours, days, months and eventually years went by before an agreed upon fight ever came to fruition. At long last, the arm-folding match finally ended, and Nate Diaz is slated to return at UFC 241, nearly three years after his second bout with McGregor.

That leads us back to Jorge Masvidal, who is treading down the same dilapidated road of uncertainty. Abraham Kawa, Masvidal’s manager, recently told MMAJunkie the surging welterweight contender would only accept a money fight with McGregor or a title bout with Usman.

“Masvidal wants the fight that pays him the most,” said Kawa. “I prefer the fight that pays him the most, as well. It’s why we get along so good [laughs].”

Deep down, White might have been laughing as well after succinctly giving a “hell no” when asked if he was interested in making the fight between Masvidal and McGregor. So that leaves Usman as the only other option on a short wish list of opponents. But not even that option is set in stone, especially if Covington is able to defeat Robbie Lawler on August 3 at UFC on ESPN 5.

A win over Till and Askren wouldn’t be enough to dwarf Covington’s impressive run in the UFC, which includes an interim title he never lost, along with marquee wins over Rafael dos Anjos, Demian Maia and Dong Hyun Kim.

Theoretically, Jorge Masvidal could choose to sit out and wait to see what happens in the Covington and Lawler fight. All he would need is a Covington loss to make his title shot argument indisputable. That would be the dream scenario for Masvidal, who has scratched and clawed his way through 47 professional MMA bouts to finally get a UFC title opportunity. However, if things don’t go according to plan, will he simply choose to rest on his laurels and campaign for a potential title shot in 2020?

That’s an option that could put him in hot water with the company, particularly when there’s a viable grudge match with top contender Leon Edwards waiting in the wings right now. Edwards, who was involved in a backstage altercation with Masvidal back in March, called out the American Top Team Product after his win over former lightweight champ Rafael dos Anjos on Saturday night at UFC on ESPN 4.

“I want to silence Jorge Masvidal first and then get on to Kamaru Usman. That fight has to happen, even if it’s in the street or in the cage,” said Edwards, who is on an eight-fight winning streak.

Masvidal hasn’t gone full Diaz yet, but he quickly shot down the proposed fight on social media, claiming he was cashing in on a promised title bout.

Covington was also supposedly guaranteed a title fight after winning the interim belt, and we all saw how that situation played out. Not to mention White remained noncommittal on the welterweight title picture in the aftermath of Masvidal’s knockout victory.

Sitting out did nothing for Nate Diaz, and it could do even less for Jorge Masvidal, who is more popular right now than he’s ever been.

A Covington victory could ultimately slam the door on every other contender in the welterweight division, leaving Masvidal with the distressing choice of stepping back into the cage to dole out another three-piece and a soda combo or challenging White and the UFC to another drawn-out, arm-folding contest.